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What Is the Best Herbal Tea to Drink When You Have a Cold?

By Danielle Hall

If you are suffering from a cold, infusing herbs in water may help. Some herbs have been found in scientific studies to help improve some of the symptoms related to colds, and perhaps even shorten the duration of your cold. However, consult with your doctor before taking herbs, especially if you are on medications.


Echinacea tea may be one of the best you can drink if you are suffering from a cold. It is a commonly used herb in alternative medicine. Although there is controversy over whether or not it is effective in preventing and treating colds, the amount of scientific evidence supporting its use cannot be ignored. For example, one study published in July 2007 in “The Lancet Infectious Diseases” found that echinacea reduced the chances of getting a cold by 58 percent in a group of participants. This study also found that it reduced the duration of colds in participants by one to four days. Check with your doctor before drinking echinacea tea to relieve your cold symptoms.

Pelargonium Sidoides

Pelargonium sidoides, commonly known as Umckaloabo, is a plant that is native to South Africa. Umckaloabo is an herb that may help improve cold-related symptoms. A study published in March 2008 in the “Journal of Family Practice” found that this herb reduced the severity of cold symptoms and also shortened the duration of colds, allowing participants treated with this herb to return to work sooner. Speak to your physician before self-treating your cold with Umckaloabo to ensure your safety.


If you have a cold, consider xia-bai-san tea. Xia-bai-san is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds and asthma. Scientific studies have revealed that this herb has an effect on lung function. In mice, xia-bai-san reduced inflammation of the lungs in a study published in July 2009 in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology.” Therefore, it may help improve respiratory-related cold symptoms, but talk to your doctor before taking xia-bai-san.

American Ginseng

American ginseng may be useful in helping to prevent the severity of colds when taken as a preventive measure. American ginseng is a perennial plant in the ivy family. A study published in July 2009 in the journal “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” found that ginseng shortened colds and upper respiratory infections in healthy adults who took it eight to 16 weeks prior to the onset of illness.

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